1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental illness or addiction problem. In respect to National Addictions Awareness Week, SEIU-West would like to recognize the members who work in addictions as well as the many people who suffer from substance abuse each day.  The need to address mental health and addictions is urgent: people with mental illness and addictions are more likely to die prematurely than the general population as those suffering can have their life cut by 10 to 20 years. A huge problem for the lack of support is rooted in negative stigma – just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member who suffers with addictions and mental illness. It’s clear we have a lot of work to do, particularly in Saskatchewan where our suicide rates are among the highest in Canada.

Vital services such as treatment centres and programs are essential for recovery and support. Members like Allison and Janine work in a treatment centre, Metis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (MACSI). Janine works as a Day Program Counsellor and Allison works as a Cook – both positions are crucial to improving the wellbeing of those suffering through addictions.

Janine majored in Addictions Counselling in her Bachelor of Health Sciences. She also has her Applied Suicide Intervention and PTSD: Strategies and Techniques for Clinicians training. In her work she provides one-on-one counselling to Day Program clients. She also assists with intakes for the 28 Day Program, as well as Assessment Screening and Referrals. Janine is the facilitator for the Day Program each afternoon as well. Janine loves the teamwork and collaboration of all the staff involved with helping those who struggle with addiction. A memorable moment for Janine is the MACSI Saskatoon annual FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Awareness Walk where clients lead the way. This Walk raises awareness and makes connections with members of the community, and SEIU-West is proud to support this Walk each year.

Allison works as the Head Cook at MACSI in Saskatoon. She has her Safe Food Handling Certificate and loves to cook for the clients each day. In her line of support for those experiencing addictions at MACSI, Allison provides nutritious meals and ensures their diet gets the attention it requires on the road to recovery. Healthy food is essential in helping the body rebuild itself and it is vital that the body gets the nutrients it needs. Allison values the work she does, and especially enjoys when clients tell her they love her food and thank her for her efforts.

We want to thank all our SEIU-West members who work with those suffering with addictions, and we extend our admiration for those battling with addictions – we know how stigma and lack of access to support systems can create huge barriers for recovery, and we hope our Saskatchewan Government will begin to take real steps to address this growing crisis in the near future.  For more information on what these steps could look like, visit the links below: 

A 10 Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan First Nations Suicide Prevention Strategy

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